Boat sales boosted during COVID-19 pandemic

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Families cooped up for weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic are opting for the outdoor activity of boating.

As a result, new and used boat sales are soaring in East Tennessee.

Normally, after July 4, boat sales usually slow down, and it takes time to sell the stock in hand, but this summer, boats of all sizes and cost are selling fast.

It’s been a year like no other for boat dealers.

Another happy customer is getting a new boat at American Boat Center in Knoxville. The center’s showroom would normally be full in August, but it looks quite different in August of 2020.

Ryan Jones, sales manager at American Boat Center, says boat sales at his dealership and others are on the rise as the pandemic has sunk summer plans for many families.

Out on the water on a typical weekend, you see lots of families discovering boating this summer, Jones attributes it to COVID-19.

Business has been so strong that lots of people end up buying the boats and not needing the trailers. So, the trailers are left in the lot.

“We are not going out of business, a lot of people ask that. We just sold a lot of these boats and are waiting to get new boats in. It’s been very tough to get them in because production has been slowed down because of Covid. However, we are slowly restocking so one day that driveway will be full again.”

Ryan Jones

The Boating Trade Association says 70% of dealers nationwide have reported increased sales of new boats since the pandemic, and the sale of used boats jumped 74% so far this year.

The center’s service department has never been busier. At the front desk, receptionist Caitlin Ault says she’s on the phone most of the day.

During the early days of the pandemic, boat factories were shut down and supply lines disrupted; but today, the supply of parts, motors, and boats is gearing up again.

While the temperature is still toasty here in mid-August, the summer boating season is nearing an end, and while new inventory is on its way, the supply of new and used boats will likely remain tight around East Tennessee.

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